SINGAPORE: The completion of the second stage of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) will see a three-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after it was originally scheduled to open by this year, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Friday (Sep 4).
The second phase of the TEL comprises six stations from Springleaf to Caldecott, with two interchange stations at Bright Hill and Caldecott.
It will now open by the first quarter of 2021, Mr Ong said in a written answer to parliamentary questions by the Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP) Jamus Lim.
Dr Lim had asked about the progress of the TEL given delays caused by the pandemic and if this spillover would lead to delays for other major planned MRT projects.
“The circuit breaker and phased re-opening since April this year have caused delays to the completion of the Thomson-East Coast Line Stage 2," Mr Ong said on Friday, noting that the lost time will be made up for.
Mr Ong added that the TEL2 was “near completion and prioritised for resumption of work”.
"However, unlike the TEL2 ... we will only be able to better assess the length of delays on subsequent phases of TEL and other MRT projects when construction activities have more fully resumed," he said.
He added the Government “remains committed to significantly expand the MRT network” from the present 230km to 360km by the early 2030s.
This includes opening the remaining stages of the Thomson-East Coast Line, completing the circle with Circle Line Stage 6, as well as building the North East Line Extension, Jurong Region Line and Cross Island Line.
The first stage of the TEL - made up of Woodlands North, Woodlands, and Woodlands South MRT stations - began taking passengers on Jan 31.
The Land Transport Authority had said in January this year that the second phase of the TEL was about 90 per cent complete.
The entire TEL line – comprising 32 stations with eight interchange stations – was initially expected to be fully operational in 2024, serving about 500,000 commuters daily in the initial years, rising to about 1 million commuters in the longer term.
All construction work in Singapore had been halted during the circuit breaker period from Apr 7 to Jun 1, as part of the Government’s measures to minimise further spread of the coronavirus.
Since then, contractors that have met the COVID-19 safety regulations for the construction sector are allowed to begin work, with priority given to critical and time-sensitive projects such as MRT works and sewerage system tunnelling projects.